After more than 10 minutes of prodding from fans, teammates and coaches, Washington Wizards guard Michael Jordan finally got off the bench to play one last time. With 2 minutes 35 seconds left in his career, Jordan, who had gotten cozy watching his teammates get overrun by the Philadelphia 76ers for most of the fourth quarter, peeled off his warmups, got on the court and managed to get fouled with 1:45 remaining.
Then he scored the final two points of his career.
The foul shots didn't mean much in the outcome of Washington's 107-87 loss to Philadelphia at sold-out First Union Center Wednesday night. However, they meant a lot to those who have followed his every move since he burst on the radar when he hit the game-winning shot that gave the University of North Carolina its second NCAA title, in 1982.
When Jordan checked out of the game, applause rang out for nearly three minutes. Fans, coaches, players, even officials cheered the last time the man considered to be one of the greatest players of all time walked away from the sport he played professionally for 15 years.
Sixers guard Eric Snow handed him the game ball, and then Jordan was on his way to Washington's locker room for the last time.
The Sixers organization did its best to make sure Jordan's finale ended in grand fashion, even though the team he now hopes to run as president of basketball operations and part owner played with the same lack of cohesiveness it has exhibited for much of this disappointing season.
From a pregame ceremony in which NBA greats Julius "Dr. J" Erving and Moses Malone gave Jordan a golf cart, to R&B crooner Teddy Pendergrass's singing of the national anthem to several other tributes, the 76ers sent Jordan off in grand style.
"Obviously, you guys see the talent you have here in Philly and the talent in the league," Jordan told the crowd. "I feel as comfortable as Dr. J felt when I came into the league when he was leaving the game: that the league is in great hands. Thanks for supporting the game. Thanks for supporting me. Continued success. Good to see you Doc, Moses, World [B. Free]. Thank you very much. I appreciate it."
-- Steve Wyche